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MENAFN - Jordan Times - 02/09/2012

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A Syrian refugee woman carries her infant while washes the family clothes at Zaatari refugee camp, in Mafraq, Jordan, Wednesday (AP photo)
(MENAFN - Jordan Times) Jordan on Saturday appealed for support from the international community to be able to continue to provide services for tens of thousands of Syrian refugees in the Kingdom.

At a press conference Saturday, Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Jafar Hassan said the number of Syrians who entered the Kingdom since the unrest in their country began last March had reached 177,000.

Of the total, about 140,000 Syrians live in Jordanian cities and villages.

"The influx of Syrians is placing tremendous pressure on Jordan's limited resources," Hassan said, adding that the cost of hosting the current number of refugees is expected to reach 150 million by the end of the year and 200 million in 2013.

Last week, the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation and the UN launched a 429 million aid appeal to provide basic services for Syrian refugees.

Relief officials called on the international community to provide 429 million in order to extend health, education and other basic services to Syrians in Jordan, whose electricity and water consumption is projected to cost the country 54 million alone.

According to the appeal document, the amount also aims to cover the 150 million price tag of expanding the Zaatari Refugee Camp to receive an expected influx of some 80,000 residents.

The amount also includes the 17 million monthly operating costs of the camp.

Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications Samih Maaytah stressed on Saturday that the Kingdom was a "victim of the Syrian crisis".

"Jordan is a political, security and economic victim of the Syrian crisis and there is mounting pressure on the Kingdom as a result of hosting a huge number of Syrians," said Maaytah, who is also government spokesperson.

"The world should shoulder its responsibilities" We are not a great economic power to be able to bear this burden alone," he added.

"We opened our borders to the brotherly Syrians, but the world should open its pockets and help the Syrians in Jordan," Maaytah told reporters.

The "rising influx" of Syrian refugees is likely to prompt the Kingdom to open another camp, Hassan noted.

"If the number of Syrians entering Jordan continues at the current average of about 1,500 per day, the Zaatari Refugee Camp will reach its maximum capacity in a few weeks and we will have to open a new camp for Syrian refugees," he said.

The Zaatari camp, which has a maximum capacity of around 80,000 refugees, currently houses some 25,000 Syrians, according to the minister.

Last Tuesday, officials announced that Jordan is nearing completion of the country's second Syrian refugee camp.

The camp will be located in the Ribaa Sirhan region near the Jordanian-Syrian border, a planned facility with a 20,000-person capacity.

UNHCR Representative in Jordan Andrew Harper, who also attended Saturday's press conference, called on the international community to help Jordan in hosting tens of thousands of Syrian refugees, stressing that the Kingdom could be facing further pressure as the influx of Syrians is expected to continue.

"There is no one positive indicator that makes me believe that the number of Syrians entering Jordan will reduce. We may have more facilities like Zaatari," Harper said.

"The international community and countries in the region should do their utmost to help Jordan absorb not only the current number of Syrian refugees but also the expected numbers of refugees in the future," he stressed.

"Jordan's scarce resources are already overburdened," the UN official added.

Also Saturday, Prime Minister Fayez Tarawneh met with Harper and reiterated the government's commitment to continuing its cooperation with international relief agencies serving Syrian refugees, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

Tarawneh said Jordan will continue to receive Syrian refugees despite the limited resources, but not at the expense of its national security. He stressed the need to closely coordinate with the UNHCR and other relief agencies over the influx of refugees, Petra said.


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